Ernestine Bayer – CRCA Hall of Fame Class of 2007

Mrs. Bayer was a world leader in introducing women to the sport of rowing. During her lifetime she earned every award given by the national rowing association: Nominee for the Sullivan Award from rowing, member of the first Women’s rowing Olympic Committee, member of the National Rowing Foundation (NRF) Rowing Hall of Fame, First United States Gold rowing medal, Carlin Award, Coach of the Year, and named one of rowing’s 10 most influential people of the century.

Ernestine Bayer is widely regarded as the “Mother of Women’s Rowing” in the United States. She learned to row at a time when it was believed that women could not row competitively. During her lifetime she challenged that assumption again and again, refusing to take “No” for an answer on dozens of occasions when the male rowing community opposed her initiatives on behalf of women.

Ernestine Bayer founded the Philadelphia Girls Rowing Club in 1938 and for more than a half century she personally attracted thousands of rowers to the sport. Her pioneering efforts made it possible for women to row for the first time in international competition in 1973, resulting in the women’s rowing events being added to the Olympic Games in 1976. She was a member of the first Women’s Olympic Committee, and she helped establish the women’s crew program at the University of New Hampshire.